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Windows 8.1 Update 1 hits RTM

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By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 5 Mar 2014 at 10:00

Microsoft has reportedly finished the first major update to Windows 8.1 and it's been released to manufacturers (RTM), with general availability set for April.

According to Windows watcher Paul Thurrott, MSDN subscribers will have access to the update from 2 April, with a wider release on 8 April. Leaked builds are already available online.

Microsoft is also considering a second update to Windows 8.1 later this year, according to ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley.

What's new?

This story was updated on 5 March with the update's RTM date.

Microsoft has said little about the new update, but has confirmed a Spring release. The update's in addition to the wider changes being planned for 2015 - called everything from Threshold to Windows 8.2 to Windows 9 - which are expected to be revealed in fuller detail during Build.

Joe Belfiore, vice president for Windows Phone, suggested the update will make Microsoft's OS easier to use with a mouse and keyboard.

"We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users," said Joe Belfiore, vice president of Windows Phone. "We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard."

At the time, Belfiore suggested manufacturers would be charged less to use Windows 8.1, paving the way for cheaper Windows devices. He added that Microsoft would improve Windows 8.1 for enterprise customers, improving IE8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11 and extending mobile device management tools.

Rumoured changes

Here's our roundup of the latest leaks, suggesting what we can expect in Windows 8.1 Update 1.

Title bar on Metro apps

A full build of Windows 8.1 Update 1 has leaked to file-sharing websites, revealing a few more of the expected changes, according to The Verge.

That includes a title bar across the top of all Metro-style apps, making it easier to use a mouse to minimise and close apps, as well as snap them side-by-side next to each other.

It's also now possible to see how the dedicated shutdown and search icons (see below) will operate. Clicking on the shutdown button opens up a dropdown box with the expected options: restart, shutdown, and sleep.

The search icon, meanwhile, opens up the existing sidebar search tool.

Boot to desktop by default

The option to bypass the Metro interface when booting up will be on by default for desktop PCs, according to The Verge.

The idea is to make it easier to use Windows 8.1 for those using a keyboard and mouse rather than a touchscreen, with Microsoft's own telemetry data showing most people still use those standard input methods. And yes, that's the same telemetry data that Microsoft used to justify removing the Start button in the first place.

However, the report notes the change is still in development and may not be ready when the update ships.

Pin Metro apps to the taskbar

Leaked screenshots suggest Update 1 will allow Metro apps to be pinned to the desktop taskbar, meaning users won't have to flip back into the Start screen to access them.

However, it isn't clear from the images what happens when the icons are clicked, whether they run directly on the desktop in their own window or simply return the user to the Metro interface, noted ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

Microsoft has been rumoured to be considering allowing users to run such apps directly on the desktop, rather than forcing them into full-screen mode in the Metro interface.

Shutting apps

Metro apps will receive their own close button in the top corner, mimicking how they're shut down on the desktop, according to Paul Thurrott. At the moment, those apps are closed via the keyboard or a touch or mouse gesture.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will also make it easier to manage app icons. Right-clicking on them in the Start screen will open up a menu to uninstall or resize them directly, rather than going to a different screen.

Shutdown ease

Leaked screenshots suggest Microsoft wants to make it easier to shutdown PCs, with the addition of a dedicated shutdown button located next to the profile image in the top-right corner of the Start screen.

At the moment, shutting down a Windows 8.1 PC involves navigating into settings or right-clicking on the returned Start button - the new method won't save steps over the former, but is easier for new users to find.

The screenshots also feature a dedicated earch button next to the profile photo and new shutdown icon.

Under the hood

Foley also noted there may be some less visible changes, geared more towards tablets than the desktop.

She said Update 1 may introduce changes to cut memory and disk space requirements for Windows 8.1, making it run better on cheaper, smaller tablets.

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User comments

"Windows 8.1 Update 1"

Not the best name in the world, surprised they didn't call it "Windows 8.2".

That said, still a better name than Xbox One.

By tech3475 on 2 Dec 2013

I agree tech3475. They seem to have lost the plot.

Windows 8.1 could have been Windows 8 Second Edition (like W98 SE). Then update 1 Third Edition.

Or would that be far too difficult for the current generation of Microsoft Employees to cope with?

I can understand Xbox 'One'. The idea being 'One' device for all entertainment in your lounge instead of a console, separate blu-ray, IPTV, PVR etc. Better than Xbox 720.

By mr_chips on 2 Dec 2013

@tech3475, @mr_chips

No, they've not lost the plot. Microsoft's history has always been that their code names are way better than the names for released products.

Having said that, I actually think Xbox One is a good name.

By jgwilliams on 3 Dec 2013

Using the word Update is a mistake though. Every month there 'Windows Update' downloads updates for Windows, Office etc. So Update 1 is more of a Service Pack or Maintenance Release. Which is why I mention Second/Third Edition. It would be far easier to distinguish from the normal updates. Especially since it will most likely be delivered via the app store again. If they call it an Update, people will expect it to arrive via Windows Update and not the store.

By mr_chips on 3 Dec 2013

Microsoft should employ....

....the civil servant that came up with the modern uk number plate system. I am sure that all would then become crystal clear!

By adamgashead on 3 Dec 2013

App Store Upgrade Failures

If Microsoft can fix the download issue with 8.1 more people might upgrade.
I've been trying for over 6 weeks. The download gets to 50% then restarts back to 0% and loops like this for ever. Microsofts answer "You have lots of non-Microsoft software loaded and do a clean install, get real Microsoft and fix the problem!!

By jimbttaylor on 5 Dec 2013

App Store Upgrade Failures

If Microsoft can fix the download issue with 8.1 more people might upgrade.
I've been trying for over 6 weeks. The download gets to 50% then restarts back to 0% and loops like this for ever. Microsofts answer "You have lots of non-Microsoft software loaded and do a clean install, get real Microsoft and fix the problem!!

By jimbttaylor on 5 Dec 2013

I really think PC Pro should have just made this a different article, it's weird seeing comments for an old article.

Commenting on an old post:

@jgwilliams

I think "Xbox One" is a bad name because I already call the "Xbox 1". Hence why I refer to it as the Xbone.

By tech3475 on 31 Jan 2014

May not be ready

"However, the report notes the change [boot to desktop] is still in development and may not be ready when the update ships."

Surely this isn't a difficult thing to implement and if they started it now, they could have it ready even for a supposed March launch?

And another vote to tech3475's idea to have different articles. As well as avoiding stale comments, it would help identify new elements - by all means link to earlier articles for those who may have not have followed it all too closely.

By Fraz_pro on 31 Jan 2014

Maybe...

Microsoft should start listening to Apple.

Rather than try and shoehorn everything into a "one size fits all" and end up with the dog's dinner they've created, they should keep the phone / tablet OS and desktop OS as 2 discrete products.

Shame, they had such a winner with Windows 7 on their hands - they've now managed to put themselves back by several steps. *sigh*

By mrmmm on 1 Feb 2014

8.1 is via downloaded via app store. Update 1 is downloaded via "windows update". Maybe why they don't call it 8.1. For 8.1 upgrade, you need to have about 10GB of free space for it to download the installation file, uncompress the file and back up old OS during installation. So yes, you do need to clean up your junks in your computer to prepare space for the upgrade.

By WillyThePooh on 1 Feb 2014

Why change the default?

I have deliberately chosen NOT to boot to desktop on my machines, why should Microsoft override my wishes?

By big_D on 1 Feb 2014

Updated?

Is it just the date that has changed? It is impossible to know what has been updated as the old article has been recycled.

If you insist on doing this with your articles, please at least put the updates sequentially at the bottom of the text so we have half a chance?

By Fraz_pro on 3 Feb 2014

Confused

Is this windows 8.1 update article one update two or windows 8.1 update article two update one?

By milliganp on 24 Feb 2014

Win 8 version ?

Why not Win8:Return of the 7.

By rhobstein3 on 24 Feb 2014

Windows 8.2

Yes they should have simply called it Windows 8.2. It would be much less confusing. And seeing the 'pretty' big changes that are coming with it, it's worth a new decimal, no?

As for PC pro, yes they should have made a new article.

By cipnrkorvo on 26 Feb 2014

Update explorer.exe?

Microsoft should REALLY update explorer.exe to fully support file paths longer than 255 characters in length. This path length is easily achieve such as in My Documents with deeply nested folders. Highly annoying that I have to use TotalCommander in order accomplish what Explorer should do! NTFS itself supports something like 64,000 character file paths, not sure, but way more than 255!

Also, it would be nice if they used the right units, like MiB instead of MB , GiB instead of GB so this whole (Why is my 1TB drive only 931GB, etc) base 10/base2 argument can finally be resolved. Just use the correct units Microsoft! It's 2014.

By danwat1234 on 27 Feb 2014

Windows 8.1 Scandal

How interesting to hear about an update to Windows 8.1. It would of course be more interesting though to know when Microsoft are going to produce a revised operating system to Windows 8 that doesn't crash and corrupt hard drives as well as throwing users off the internet as has occurred for many Windows 8 users with the so called free update from Windows 8 to 8.1.

By Parsifal on 27 Feb 2014

Touch/non-touch

I've never figured out why reviewers keep repeating the assumption that Win8 doesn't work well without touch. I do most of my work on a non-touch Win8 computer. Assuming you have a good touchpad or mouse that supports Win8 gestures, navigation is just as fluid and efficient as it is with touch.

By psh_vt on 27 Feb 2014

Windows 8.1

Hopefully this patch will be less painful than the change to 8.1.
Worst ever update by MS took over 5.5 hours - I stopped waiting & went to bed.

By roberttrebor on 5 Mar 2014

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